El Dorado – Ted Mc Carthy

 

“The fish fanciers, sitting by their ponds and gazing

into their depths, were tracing shadows

darker than they understood.” – Rubicon by Tom Holland

 

Arid – it took twenty years for the word to come.

And what did we expect, creeping that Saturday

down laneways whose leaves were dying into red,

towards the El Dorado of an orchard whispered about,

its apples untasted for years, guarded by a gun?

How near we were to town. How easily lost.

 

The youngest, last seen years ago, standing asleep,

wedged between three squatters in a phone box.

His eyes, they said, when he opened them, still had

that child’s disappointment at finding his last sweet gone;

suddenly he remembered himself and retreated.

He was a river of words at twelve

 

and I remember him now, from nowhere,

his life too fierce and frank to be glossed over,

unlike the rest of us, we on the cusp then of knowing

not the taste but the craving for it. So on

we blundered, countryside itching under our collars

until we turned and stumbled into a yard

 

ringed by trees, their fruit greener than leaves,

huge, monstrous almost. But we had to pick them.

And the house. No gun as frightening

as that abandoned silence, or the comb-teeth

litter of fish we knew we’d seen in books.

Never earth so bare as that dried pond.

 


Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding, and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

Flowers and night-time flowers – DS Maolalai

 

camden. the bus

flipped like a swing

in bad weather

with somebody

kicking their heels.

11pm. earth gone

grey in salty

shades of orange.

the shops all closed, bars

curled open,

like flowers

giving way to night-

time flowers. someone

already hammered,

being sick in a corner

next to a fish shop.

pavement alive

like a pond

with ducks.

a part of the city

with evening in shades,

beautiful and busy.

stylish people

and shirts

bought from second

hand stores.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Traces – Lorraine Carey

 

I have a friend

without fingerprints.

She worked in the corner shop

and the fact that her tips

lacked those delicate swirls

only came to light,

 

when takings didn’t tally

with receipts and the police

arrived to take prints.

Her innocence undisputed

and the culprit shown the door.

 

We said she was special,

unique, joked she’d make

a superb criminal,

with no evidence on door knobs,

or traces left behind,

 

tongues firmly in our cheeks

and elevated in an instant

she drifted from us

with our traceable whorls,

just ordinary girls,

nothing special.

 


Lorraine Carey’s an Irish poet from Co. Donegal. Her work is widely published in Poetry Ireland Review, Abridged, The Rising Phoenix Review, Constellate, Orbis, Prole, Smithereens, Porridge, The High Window, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Birmingham among others. She has poems forthcoming in Eunoia Review and One. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has been placed and shortlisted in several competitions including Trocaire / Poetry Ireland, The Blue Nib Chapbook Competition, Listowel Writers’ Week, The Allingham Prize and was longlisted in The National Poetry Competition 2019. Her poems have been broadcast on local and national radio. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).

Hot as a log – DS Maolalai

 

cold as logs

in water, a wet

and winter

evening. a rain

which cracks

the windows,

sounds like logs

in burning

hearths, and you

here on the sofa, curling

with me around tea.

you are hot as a log,

as solid and beautiful

as a pile of dried firewood

stacked carefully next

to a fire. outside, the grass

is wet and quite

miserable, taking weight

with the softness

of age-wilted salad.

even the dog’s

feeling anxious this evening

and rubbing the carpet

with her head.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Perfect Surfaces – Geraldine McCarthy

On Saturday morning, Pam cleans the mixing-bowl at the kitchen sink while buns cook in the oven. She’s wearing rubber gloves to protect her nails. Only had them done the previous day, and they’re €30 a pop.

She’s volunteered to bake for a local coffee morning, in aid of some orphanage in South America.

The fairy cakes will take fifteen minutes. Two dozen should be enough; twelve plain and twelve with cherries. She wipes down the already spotless marble worktops, takes out the cakes, and has a quick coffee while they cool on a wire tray. The aroma of vanilla wafts through the kitchen.

Upstairs, she opts for skinny jeans, and a new baby-pink top. Her face is a little flushed from the heat of the oven, so she applies foundation, and then a little eye-shadow and lip gloss. The neighbours are all so glam, with their highlights and lowlights, their clothes always this season’s.

Fairy cakes in boxes on the back seat, Pam drives to the community centre. The Audi glides along like a dream. She’s glad she traded up this year.

Once inside, she makes sure to hand over the baking to Audrey, the head of the committee, who pecks Pam’s cheek and thanks her profusely from a cloud of Chanel No. 5. Audrey persuades Pam to stay for a cuppa, so they sit down in the far corner of the room, away from the hub-bub at other tables. Deep in conversation about the Tidy Towns contest, Pam feels a tap on her shoulder. She twirls on her chair.

Her mother. Grey roots and crumpled cardigan.

Pam’s stomach clenches. “Mam!” she says. “How did you get here?”

“Diane next door brought me,” her mother says, “thought I could do with a break.” She raises an eyebrow. “There’s only so many kitten videos you can watch on YouTube.”

Pam glances at Audrey, who averts her eyes, and nibbles her bun like a bird at a feeder.

Pam addresses her mother. “Oh, well, you know I’d have collected you, but I thought you were watching your weight, that you’d have no interest.”

Her mother twists her wedding band around her finger, as if she’s strangling a turkey. “Hmm.”

“Well, I can drop you back later.”

Her mother purses her lips. “Sure, if I came with Diane I can go home with her.”

Pam feels her face redden. “Well, I’ll call tomorrow morning then. Is there anything you need?”

“Not a bit,” her mother says. “Diane is beckoning me over. See you tomorrow.”

Audrey finishes her bun. “Well, I must mingle. Thanks so much for all your hard work, Pam.”

“Not a bother, Audrey. I’ll see you Monday night for picking up the litter. The group is meeting at the church, isn’t it?”

“Yes, see you then.”

As Pam drives home, she notices the varnish has chipped.  She’ll go to the nail bar next week for a repair job. They look so nice when they’re freshly done.


IMG_0407

Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork, Ireland.  She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry.  Her work has been published in various journals, both on-line and in print.

Parental Guidance – Maurice Devitt

 

A hot summer’s day on the estate, tar-lines

softening in the blistering sun. Constructing

triangles with ice-pop sticks, we meld the corners

with our new liquorice glue and whip them

like frisbees from between our fingers,

to watch them ride the warm silent air,

twisting and dipping until they crash and split

like atoms, sticks splayed. I throw one

and it takes off, rising sharply as though from a sling,

then stalls like a cough and bounces off

the windscreen of a cornering car. Sliding

to a stop, the driver jumps out, engine left running.

I am already gone, scooting down the side-passage

of our house. He lopes up the steps, pounds on the door.

No answer at first, just the peripheral view

of a net-curtain settling. He looks up at the windows,

they hold their silence. He shuffles self-consciously

on the step. My mother opens the door, her small frame

standing tall in the doorway, her face suitably sullen.

The man is shouting about what I have done,

while my mother examines the chips in her fingernails.

He demands to see me as if it were his right

to exact some revenge. My mother seems to grow taller

in the darkened hallway, as I appear sheepishly

from beneath her housecoat. He stretches to grab me,

she pushes me back, takes one step forward and explains,

that while she is aware her son is young and reckless,

he does not need to feel this anger to know

that he is wrong. Fear will teach him nothing.

The man harrumphs and walks away. I catch

his last regretful glance from the driver’s seat,

knowing that, for me, this is not over yet.

 

 

Personal PhotoWinner of the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, Maurice Devitt has been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net Prizes and been runner-up in the Cúirt New Writing Prize, Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition and the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition. He published his debut collection Growing Up in Colour with Doire Press.

Days – Ted Mc Carthy

 

Days are the spars of a shipwreck. Overhead,

the constant fear of looking at the sun.

No more raft of promises. Instead,

a decent life, an audience of one.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, ‘November Wedding’, and ‘Beverly Downs’. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

Highfield – Ted Mc Carthy

 

Remember this when names won’t come easily:

the patch of green too narrow for houses,

viewed from an upstairs window;

a flit of yellowhammers at year’s turning,

the long view east, milk-souring suns,

far unmeasured mornings. Remember these

when your name moves beyond you

like the sun behind a house.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, ‘November Wedding’, and ‘Beverly Downs’. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

Rainfall – Ted Mc Carthy

 

I woke with an old sense

of entering a clearing

as a boat breasts a strait of reeds

from one lake to another

 

with no notion of the vastness

in front, behind; a settler

thinking himself still, feet

either side of a century,

 

belongings mere ideas again,

a scattering of atoms, a constellation;

rainfall, each drop still pure

after its million collisions.

 

 

Ted - 008Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, ‘November Wedding’, and ‘Beverly Downs’. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

The Fortune-Teller – Geraldine McCarthy

 

I hunkered on a three-legged stool outside the caravan, waiting. People liked to see what Rosie the Palm-Reader looked like. So I put myself on show, donned in my green velvet dress, with bangles jangling from wrist to elbow. It was important to look the part.

The fair was in full swing. The stall next to me sold cheap plastic toys, and young children pointed to guns and dolls and swords, and pouted if their parents said they’d spent enough already. Men led horses down towards the end of the street, where the beasts would be eyed by keen buyers. The smell of dung mingled with the smell of chips, fused with the smell of leather from the shoe stall across the way.

Business was quiet. Would I make the price of the supper?

Jim ambled up. His tweed jacket was open, revealing a beige pull-over, slightly ravelled at the neck. Hazel eyes, rosy cheeks and grey curls in need of a haircut – not many people would pay him heed. He was late. Normally he came in the morning. He toured all the fairs and was on first-name terms with the horsey crowd.

This six months past he’d begun paying me visits.

“Rosie, how’re you keepin’?”

“Good enough, Jim. Good enough.”

I waited for him to speak again. I didn’t like to presume.

“I was wonderin’ would we have one of our little chats?” He stood staring into the middle distance.

I rose from the stool, my knee joints protesting, and gestured towards the van. “Come in, Jim. Come in.”

I hauled myself up the steps, and sat at one side of the pull-out table. All of a sudden, the van seemed dingy. The curtains were faded, as were the cushion covers, and the carpet had seen better days. People expected dream-catchers and crystal balls, but I had neither. I ran a no-frills operation.

Jim came and positioned himself opposite, shuffling his bulk to get comfortable. He held out his palm without being asked. His hands were calloused and rough; he’d told me of the long years he’d spent labouring for big farmers. I ran my finger along his life line, his head line and his heart line, doing my best to ignore the tingle, the quickening of my own heart.

“Is there anything bothering you today, Jim?”

“No more than usual.”

The last time I’d seen him he’d been arguing with his wife. Said he couldn’t leave. The house was hers, and he’d have nowhere to go.

“Well, as I told you before, Jim, your heart line is strong.”

So it was. Just like my own.

He exhaled loudly. “You’ll have to give me more than that to go on, Rosie, love.”

I wanted to advise him to ditch the wife. That’s what my gut instinct told me. I’d normally be honest with a client, but I couldn’t say anything in this case.

He waited for me to continue.

“Your strong heart line allows you to over-ride practicalities. Sometimes we can be too practical, calculating everything in the credit and debit columns.”

I’d said far more than I intended.

Jim shifted in the seat, and the leather squeaked. “Aye,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.

My cheeks burned and I hoped the dim light would camouflage my unease. “This one’s on the house, Jim.”

If he was surprised he didn’t show it. “Aye, thanks. Well, I’ll be off so.”

He descended the steps, reluctantly it seemed, and I stayed in the caravan a while, delicately fingering the heart line on my own palm.

 

 

IMG_0407Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork. She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in The Fable Online, The Incubator Journal, Seven Deadly Sins: a YA Anthology (Gluttony, Wrath, Avarice), Scarlet Leaf Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction,  Every Day Fiction, Fifty Word Stories, Foxglove, Poetry Pulse and Comhar.

A Storm in My Heart – Geraldine McCarthy

 

We sit cross-legged on the carpeted floor, slugging cheap red wine. Our combined CD collections lie in a heap between us.

“How’re you set for tomorrow’s classes?” Kate asks, ever smiling, ever upbeat.

I frown. “I think my lesson plans are okay, but I hope my supervisor doesn’t come ‘til next week.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re a bit of a perfectionist, Rachel?” she says, gently. “Me, I hope my notes are good enough. After that, Mr Davis will have to take me as he finds me.”

We have a tendency to talk shop. Thursday night, our housemates are out on the batter, but we need to be reasonably fresh for school.

“So, what are we going to play next?” I ask, stretching my legs to avoid the feeling of pins and needles.

“‘Here Comes the Sun.’” Kate puts the CD in, closes her eyes, throws back her head, and smiles.

The tune fills the room. I can see how it would be her favourite. I sip more wine and marvel at the simplicity of the lyrics.

The song ends and we allow a silence to settle.

“Your turn,” she says.

I hesitate. “It’s called ‘A Storm in My Heart.’” I flip through the CDs, find Dolores Keane, and kneel to pop the disc in the player. Music fills the room and I feel like an empty Coke can being tossed down the street in the wind.

The smile slips from Kate’s face. Song over, she is first to speak.  “It’s a bit dark, isn’t it?”

“I suppose.” An image of Dan in his best suit comes to me unbidden. He wore it  – navy with a delicate pinstripe – at my cousin’s wedding. Our last outing.

“Maybe we should finish up for the night,” she says, “in case of a supervision tomorrow?”

“You’re right.” I tidy the CDs into two neat piles.

We troop upstairs.

I toss and turn in my bed. Five years I’d gone out with Dan. It started with the Debs. I invited him. Always that insecurity that I was the one to ask him. Then, last summer when I got back from a holiday in Australia, he said he’d been seeing someone else.

They say grieving for a living person is worse than grieving for the dead. They also say we can create hell in our own heads. Is that what I’ve been doing?

Before drifting off to sleep, I imagine tree branches becoming still again, clouds parting, debris being swept away, and a ray of sneaky sunshine poking through.

 

 

IMG_0407Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork. In a former life she was involved in tutoring, lecturing, translation and research. She has been writing short stories and flash fiction for nearly three years now. Her work has been published in The Fable Online, The Incubator Journal, Seven Deadly Sins: a YA Anthology (Gluttony, Wrath, Avarice), Scarlet Leaf Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction and Every Day Fiction. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/cruthaitheacht.

Two Women at a Window – Maurice Devitt

 

after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

 

Their eyes betray nothing

of what might have gone before.

Were they caught in a cat-fight

over a dress, borrowed

but never returned, or a letter,

steamed open and hastily re-sealed –

news that could not be unseen,

the final link in a chain

of stolen glances, whispered words

and footsteps quickening

on the wooden stairs?

 

Or had they lost the morning

to impatience and panic,

the constant cling of call-bells,

paths crossing like ghosts

in voiceless corridors?

 

Either way they will slip back

into their lives,

the feelings they had shelved

will return,

and we will never know

what words were spoken

in the half-eaten silence.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Sinister – Maurice Devitt

 

*Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed.

 

At school I wanted to be

left-handed, so I told

the teacher my right arm

was broken, hitched it in a scarf

around my neck and proceeded

to write with my left – whispery

at first, but gradually I gained

strength and my ‘O’s became

perfectly rounded: pieces of art,

letters I could stand back from

and admire. That day over lunch

I drew one on the classroom

floor, pulled a rope-ladder

from my pocket and climbed

down, careful to cover my tracks.

It seems I tunnelled in the dark

for hours, until suddenly I saw

a circle of light, clambered

towards it to lift myself out,

only to be met by the cold stare

of my mother,

a stick of chalk in her right hand.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

A Slow News Day – Maurice Devitt

 

It is already mid-morning and the sky

is still undecided. A placeholder

of pesky grey, not definite enough

for rain and too shy for sun. Maybe

today has been cancelled and nothing

will happen, not even to the man

who is walking his dog by the side

of the lake, revelling in the deal

that he closed just before he came out,

looking forward to a dinner with family

and friends, and failing to hold his footing

as he throws a wet stick across the water.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.